What Causes a Dripping Nose in the Elderly?

Physiological changes that occur with aging can cause a runny nose and other symptoms of geriatric rhinitis, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology. Patients with the condition often complain of continual sinus drainage, a sense that the nasal passages are obstructed, and a constant need to clear the throat.

The nose changes as a result of the aging process, notes the American Academy of Otolaryngology. It becomes longer, and its tip starts to droop. This happens when the supporting cartilage of the nose weakens. Airflow becomes constricted in the area where the lower and upper lateral cartilage meet, which is called the nasal valve region. It is this narrowing that causes nasal obstruction, or geriatric rhinitis, in the aging population.

Although these symptoms are sometimes caused by aging, they can also be caused by allergic rhinitis, notes the American Academy of Otolaryngology. Chronic sinusitis can also cause this and other symptoms, including thick drainage, facial pressure and headaches, and around 14.1 percent of Americans over the age of 65 report that they suffer from the condition. A consultation with a qualified ear, nose and throat practitioner can help rule out allergic rhinitis or chronic sinusitis as causes of continual nasal drip prior to a diagnosis of geriatric rhinitis being delivered.